The Order of The Hospitallers – 1510


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Excerpt from The Gentleman’s Magazine – Volume 265 published in 1888 – Article ‘The St John Ambulance Association by Alfred J H Crespi – November 1888’

The St John Ambulance Association – The Order of The Hospitallers – 1510

To return to the history of the order. It had many strange vicissitudes. In 1510 the knights, under Foulkes de Villaret, in conjunction with certain Crusaders from Italy, seized Rhodes and seven adjacent islands. In 1523 they were driven from Rhodes by Sultan Solyman, and retired first to Candia, and afterwards to Viterbo. In 1530 Charles V. gave them Malta, adding Tripoli and Gozo. After the Reformation the decay of the order was rapid, and in [1798], through the treachery of some French knights and the cowardice of D’Hompesch, the grand master, Malta was surrendered to the French. Since [1801] the grand mastership has not been filled up, though the order survives in some fashion in Italy, Spain, and Russia, and the highest official – the deputy grand master – lives in Spain.

The members of the order at first wore a long black habit, with a pointed hood, embellished with a cross of white silk on the left breast, of the form called Maltese, and with a golden cross in the middle of the breast. In their military capacity they had red surcoats with a silver cross in front and at the back. The badge of all the knights was a Maltese cross, enamelled white and edged with gold, suspended by a black ribbon. Half a century ago the order was resuscitated in England as a Protestant body – that is, it was wholly unconnected with the Catholic organisation abroad.  Although in [1858] some difficulty was made as to the religion of the revived English langue, the order, as now constituted, has done good work in building and endowing hospitals, relieving suffering, organising the “Eastern War Sick and Wounded Relief Fund,” and the “National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War;” but perhaps incomparably its greatest and noblest undertaking has been “The St. John Ambulance Association for giving instruction in rendering First Aid to the injured in peace and war.”

Thank Heaven! the last grand outcome of the ancient order recognises, in the true spirit of the Amalfi founders, only one claim – that of suffering humanity. Princes and peasants, men, women, and children, rich and poor, young and old may be taught in the same place and by the same teacher, and may be examined at the same time by the same examiner. In this way the order has proved equal to the exacting requirements of the age, and has entered into the spirit of Him who found His most trusted followers not in the ranks of tetrarchs and Roman consuls and proconsuls, not in the schools of Athens and the senate of Rome, but among the fishermen of Galilee, the tent-makers of Tarsus, and the despised and hated publicans.

Excerpt from The Gentleman’s Magazine – Volume 265 published in 1888 – Article ‘The St John Ambulance Association by Alfred J H Crespi – November 1888’


Further Reading and External Links

St John Ambulance on Wikipedia

St John Ambulance Association Website